I’m getting very close to finishing and publishing “Amena’s Rise to Stardom!”, which is the prequel to the Divine Warriors series. Of course, book #2 will be right behind it.
If you’ve already read Riwenne & the Mechanical Beasts, then you know Amena is a pop idol who got her big break by winning a competition called Star Search. In fact, her biography is called Amena’s Rise to Stardom! in the novel and Riwenne buys the book during a fateful encounter at a bookstore. But the version she reads is an exaggerated fluff piece mostly written by Amena’s manager and based on a fake identity.
The version I’m writing is the truth behind Amena’s success. She’s got some dark secrets in her past. I started this as a short story for an anthology (which had a max word count of 5,000), but it quickly grew into a novella (now 30K words!) so I couldn’t submit it. There are hints at some of the mysteries from book #1 and other things that have yet to be revealed. Here’s an excerpt to give you a taste!
Amena’s Rise to Stardom!
Shortly after midnight, I’m kneeling in the darkness while I pick the lock on an imperial warehouse door. No one’s around, so I sing softly to myself as I work. Some people think you need to listen when you pick a lock, but it’s more like something you do by feel. I’ve been picking locks tougher than this since I was old enough to reach them. I rake the pins inside the lock with my tools and feel each one snap into place, and before long, the lock pops open.
It’s even darker inside, but it’s just a big, open space. I know from last year that the door to the overseer’s office is up the stairs along the east wall. I brush my fingers along the wall until I find the railing and I follow that up the stairs.
The office door has a simple lock. I slip the blade of my dagger in and jiggle a little, and the door clicks open.
Now I need to see. I strike a match with one hand and cup my other hand around it to keep from burning anything. All the file cabinets are along the wall. Looks like the overseer reorganized his paperwork a little, but he still labels everything. I find the drawer labeled “Schedules” and flip through the folders until I reach the most recent one.
The overhead lamp switches on, blinding me. I whirl around and squint against the brightness.
“Hands where I can see them,” a deep woman’s voice commands me.
I blink and the colors of a guard’s uniform come into focus, followed by the barrel of a revolver pointed straight at me.